Last Dance Before An Execution was the 19th episode in Season 3 of Quantum Leap, also the 50th overall series episode. Written as a teleplay by Deborah Pratt from a story penned by series creator Donald P. Bellisario, Bill Bigelow, and Pratt, the episode, which was directed by Michael Watkins, first aired on NBC-TV on May 1, 1991.
Sam leaps into a death row convict moments before his execution. A last minute stay of execution order gives him 48 hours to determine his innocence in a leap with an unclear mission.
Sam leaps into Jesus Ortega (Stephen Domingas) as the man is about to be executed for the murder of a priest. Right as he is about to be electrocuted, the governor calls and gives Sam a forty-eight hour stay of execution. Sam and Al assume that they must be there to prove that Jesus and his buddy and fellow prisoner Raul Casta (Julio Oscar Mechoso), who was convicted as an accomplice to the murder of the priest, were innocent. The evidence is stacked against them with the murdered priest's dying declaration that Jesus was the killer and two eyewitnesses. The real Jesus is no help, as he apparently believes himself to be dead already, and is comatose.
With the covert assistance of a Florida State Assistant District Attorney, Margerita Lorrea Tearsa (Jenny Gago), who thinks he's innocent, he's submitted an appeal to the Governor. All of this doesn't sit well with Theodore Moody (played by James Sloyan), the DA who convicted him who is also now a candidate for Governor.
Fortunately, ADA Tearsa believes Jesus’ story and is eager to help him prove his innocence. In fact, because the ballistics report was inconclusive and the DA's office claimed that it was conclusive, Tearsa organized that whole stay of execution in the first place. Under the pretense of Tearsa wanting to go over the case again, Sam questions Raul about the case. Raul's daughter was sick and needed medicine that they couldn't afford so Jesus suggested asking the church. The priest was sympathetic but would not give them any money for the poor for fear that they would buy alcohol with it. Jesus smashed the lock box and they took the six dollars inside of it. The priest was later shot and killed but Raul says he was home with his young daughter and a witness that has since gone missing.
The DA is running for governor on the basis of being hard on crime and so often pushes sentences up as high as he can and arranged for all five death row inmates to be there. In the original history, Tearsa is caught helping Jesus and not only fails to save him but is disbarred and ends up a social worker in an unemployment agency for the rest of her life. Sam tries to keep her from getting caught while helping himself.
One of the bullets is missing and Sam convinces Tearsa to go back to the church and to look for it. Al accompanies her and, with future technology, manages to find the bullet but cannot let Tearsa know. Fortunately, a young child who thinks that Al is an angel is able to communicate the news to Tearsa. No one could find it because it was hidden behind a painting. Al jubilantly reports this back to Sam and the two are convinced this will get Jesus off the hook for the murder and allow Sam to leap. However, Ziggy then reports to Al that the ballistics report on the bullet will prove conclusively that it came from Jesus' gun and that he did indeed kill the priest, and Jesus... or rather, Sam, is now certainly going to die in the electric chair.
Tearsa feels betrayed and she rages at a horrified Sam. The DA shows up and threatens to destroy Tearsa. Sam tries to encourage her but she blows him off. The DA taunts Sam about his impending death and asks if he'll do the ‘last dance’ (another name for when a prisoner has a futile struggle against the guards carrying him as the fear of death hits him just before he is placed in the chair) before his execution. A priest tries to get Sam to make peace with his fate but Sam refuses to believe that he won't leap in time. As Sam is led away, Raul curses him for the murder and begs Sam to confess and save him.
At the very last second before he is muzzled, Al shows up instructing Sam to confess to the murder. It turns out that it was Raul and Tearsa Sam was there to save. Sam frees Raul and destroys the DA by providing the phone number and new name of the witness who was with Raul when the priest was killed. He was an immigrant who could not practice when he came to America and he was given the opportunity to practice in New York to keep him out of Florida. This witness gave a statement clearing Raul and had no idea that he was being searched for.
With the DA ruined and Raul and Tearsa achieving their happy endings, Sam starts to panic again as he is fitted with the mouth-piece and helmet for his execution. Al shouts at him to hurry up and leap but Sam can't manage it until right as the electricity courses through the chair.
|Quantum Leap Season Three|
|● The Leap Home, Part I ● The Leap Home, Part II (Vietnam) ● Leap of Faith ● One Strobe Over The Line ● The Boogieman ● Miss Deep South ● Black On White On Fire ● The Great Spontini ● Rebel Without A Clue ● A Little Miracle ● Runaway ● 8 1/2 Months ● Future Boy ● Private Dancer ● Piano Man ● Southern Comforts ● Glitter Rock ● A Hunting We Will Go ● Last Dance Before An Execution ● Heart of A Champion ● Nuclear Family ● Shock Theater ●.|